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James Marshall Elementary to Remain Open; 7 Other Schools Will Close

Its principal reacts to school board vote with relief, concern for other schools.

The Sacramento City Unified School District voted 4 to 3 to close seven schools Thursday night sparing Rosemont's James W. Marshall Elementary School. 

The school will remain open, despite having been one of 11 schools originally recommended by district staff to be closed. 

Marshall Principal Marla VanLaningham left the meeting elated. 

"I'm thrilled for James Marshall," VanLaningham said. "It's a great place to work. We have great children and staff and programs."

The decision to keep the school open followed a surprise recommendation during the meeting by Superintendent Jonathan Raymond. If Marshall closed, Raymond argued parents may potentially avoid sending their kids to the newly designated Waldorf-syle A.M. Winn Elementary School. 

While happy about her school's outcome, VanLaningham said she hoped her school wasn't pardoned at other schools' expense.

“I think the district is in for a lot of work now," she said. "(By) closing that many schools this quickly, they are going to have a lot to do to make it a smooth transition for all the kids.”

District board member Christina Pritchett, who represents schools in the Rosemont area, voted against the seven school closures. During the meeting she expressed concern over how many kids would get home safely without heavily relied-upon after school programs. 

"Some of us are just opposed to the current plan," Pritchett said during the meeting. The board didn't vote on the issue until just after 12:30 a.m.

VanLaningham applauded Pritchett's stance. 

"I think the concern over the after school programs was huge," she said. 

James Marshall offers a preschool Head Start program and the after-school program Sacramento START (Students Today Achieving Results Tomorrow).

Built in 1976, the school offers special education classes including those for children with autism.

"It will be a big celebration tomorrow," she added. "But I think we have a lot of work to do to build up our enrollment so we don't have to go through this again." 

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